Sunday, October 12, 2008

Ask The Readers: Would a Prettier Linux Make You Switch?

prettylinux.png Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth (who we interviewed last year) announced that he's out to make Linux a better-looking operating system than Mac OS X—within two years. An ambitious goal! At O'Reilly's OSCON conference this week, Shuttleworth said:
"I think the great task in front of us in the next two years is to lift the experience of the Linux desktop from something stable and usable and not pretty, to something that's art," Shuttleworth said. "Think of the way the iPhone uses a pure software experience, it abstracts away all the hardware," he said. "You can paint anything on the screen because it's all software."
Everyone loves eye candy on their desktop—Apple's record-setting Mac sales can attest to that—but is looks is the main hurdle for Linux adoption amongst Normals? Seems like the inability to run Windows and Mac-only software like Microsoft Office or Outlook/Entourage natively, and niggly problems like Wi-Fi and video driver incompatibilities are the biggest problems.

What about you? Would a better-looking Linux make you switch? Or is it deeper than that? Tell us what would get you to go Linux all the way (or what got you, if you're already there) in the comments. Gorgeous Linux desktop image by Andrew Katzman.

Ask The Readers: Would a Prettier Linux Make You Switch?

1 comment:

rgr said...

Well, I already switched to Ubuntu some time ago ;) That was certainly not for the look, but I agree with Mark Shuttleworth that a pretty user interface matters, or at least doesn't hurt. It may attract "frivolous" people sensitive to their computer look (yes they exist, including me), as well as those repelled by interfaces with an excessively technical look (although it is arguable that Linux has already made huge progress in that area).
However functionality, consistency, and ergonomics (ease of use) remain more important IMO than "Art", that I regard as the icing on the cake.
Improving the interface is perfectly fine, as long as it doesn't divert too much energy from improving the underlying functionality (like roaming connections, wifi...).